Despite the misspelling, his since-deleted tweet on Saturday afternoon, posted hours after the election was called for Biden, appeared to be an overt throwback to the Confederacy — in a part of the Deep South that only voted to remove the Confederate battle flag symbol from its own state flag earlier this year.
In a statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday, Wallace apologized for the comment, calling it “inappropriate” and saying “it in no way represents the desire of my constituents and myself.”
“First of all I truly love the USA and the State of Mississippi and would never support any idea of seceding from the union,” he wrote. “I humbly ask for forgiveness for my poor lack of judgment.”
Although a small but growing number of GOP lawmakers have congratulated Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris on their victory, many others — including most of the state’s top Republicans — have backed President Trump’s efforts to challenge the results, according to the Mississippi Free Press.
On Monday, the state’s attorney general became one of 10 across the country who pledged to join Trump’s attempt to stop Pennsylvania from counting mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day. Even before the race was called, Mississippi’s five Republicans in Congress released a joint statement that warned, without evidence, about the existence of “voting irregularities” across the country.
But Wallace made a far more extreme claim: The Magnolia State should simply leave the United States.
It started with a Twitter thread from Robert Foster, a former Mississippi state representative and 2019 gubernatorial candidate who, in response to Biden’s victory, said that more votes needed to be counted before settling the race.
“The majority does not rule, the law derived from a Constitution has the final say,” Foster wrote, claiming the United States is a constitutional republic and not a democracy. “Democrats and their Fake News Cheerleaders are about to get a hard lesson in civics.”
His claim that the U.S. is not a democracy — a talking point pushed by the ultraconservative John Birch Society, according to the Free Press — has been cast aside by some political scientists as disingenuous. Writing in the Atlantic, Claremont McKenna College professor George Thomas explained while the country’s founders did not embrace direct or “pure” democracy, they nonetheless built a system of representative democracy governed by majority rule.
On Twitter, Foster went on to claim that, unlike Republicans, Democrats would refuse to accept a vote for the other party. (Nationally, he is perhaps best known for invoking the “Billy Graham rule” to a female reporter last year, refusing her request to shadow him during his campaign unless she brought a male colleague with her.)
“They will riot and burn their own cities to the ground,” Foster wrote on Twitter. “With that being said. I choose law and order over a Banana Republic, so if it comes to it, let them riot.”
That’s where Wallace came in, writing: “We need to succeed from the union and form our own country."
Also on Saturday, according to Law & Crime, Wallace derided the news media for calling the election for Biden and Harris, and claimed the two would seize his guns. As those remarks drew alarm and condemnation online, Wallace made his Twitter account private by early Wednesday.
While a 1869 Supreme Court ruling effectively bars states from unilaterally seceding, Wallace is not the first to speculate about the possibility in recent years. A 2006 effort to get secession on the ballot in Alaska was quashed by the state’s Supreme Court, Politico reported, while then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) falsely claimed during a 2009 rally that Texas has the unique ability to secede from the rest of the country.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) has not commented on the presidential election since predicting last week that Trump would win, according to the Free Press. But some younger Mississippi Republicans have acknowledged the Biden-Harris win and its historic significance.
“There’s a woman standing on a stage tonight as the Vice President-elect of our United States of America,” wrote state Rep. Jansen Owen (R). “Regardless of one’s political ideology, this moment stands as a testament to our great nation."
State Rep. Kent McCarty (R) also chimed in with praise for the unprecedented vote, adding: “I would hope that ALL of us, regardless of party, can acknowledge the historical significance of the daughter of immigrants becoming the VP of the United States."
Foster responded to both on Twitter, too.
“Why don’t you two RINOs be men enough to admit you voted for Kamala? You two will have a lot of explaining to do in your next elections if you try and run as Republicans again,” he wrote. “You should both just go ahead and switch parties.”